Bellator 162 comes to us live from the FedEx Forum in Memphis, TN on Friday night. Former middleweight champion Alexander Shlemenko returns to the Bellator octagon to face veteran Kendall Grove in the main event of the four-fight main card. It will be Shlemenko’s first fight in Bellator since he knocked out Melvin Manhoef back in February, 2015. Unfortunately for Shlemenko the win was changed to a no-contest due to a failed drug test.
UFC veteran Kendall Grove enters the fight looking for his third straight victory and another run at a championship.
The co-main event features professional wrestler Bobby Lashley taking on Josh Appelt in a battle of heavyweights. The last we saw Booby Lashley in the octagon he was knocking out James Thompson roughly one year ago.
The main card rounds out with Hisaki Kato vs. AJ Matthews in a middleweight showdown and Ryan Couture vs. Goiti Yamauchi in a battle of lightweights.
Note: Join me at MMATorch.com tonight where I will be reporting live round by round coverage and analysis of Bellator 162.
Kendall Grove (23-15) vs. Alexander Shlemenko (51-9) – Middleweight (185 lbs.)
Kendall Grove comes into this fight with a huge height and reach advantage. Grove stands six inches taller than Shlemenko and boasts a nine inch reach advantage. Grove won his last two fights and looked good in the process winning both by knockout. It’s imperative that he is able to take advantage of his longer reach and keep Shlemenko from getting inside, where the Russian can do serious damage.
Shlemenko will obviously try to close the distance and work inside in an effort to negate Grove’s size advantage. The problem for Shlemenko is he has historically struggled when going up against bigger fighters. Although it’s been over a year since Shlemenko fought under the Bellator banner, he does have two wins in that time span while fighting in Russia. If Shlemenko is sharp and finds ways to work inside I think he has enough to put Kendall Grove away.
Pick: Shlemenko by TKO
Josh Appelt (7-2) vs. Bobby Lashley (14-2) – Heavyweight (265 lbs.)
Josh Appelt will be Lashley’s toughest challenge yet. That being said, he isn’t the challenge a 14-2 fighter should be getting at this point in his career. It’s time Bellator puts a serious challenge in front of the current TNA and former WWE wrestler.
I’m sure Bellator is hesitant to do this because they know Bobby Lashley would get exposed should he face a fighter such as Matt Mitrione or one of the other top contenders in the heavyweight division. Lashley sorely lacks striking skills and relies primarily on his wrestling to overpower his opponent and keep him on the ground.
If Josh is able to defend Lashley’s takedown attempts and keep the fight standing I think he has a chance. It will be interesting to see how much cardio Lashley has should the fight go into the later rounds.
My prediction however, is Bobby will again use his brute strength and overpower Appelt, get him to the ground and work in a submission.
Pick: Lashley by submission
AJ Matthews (8-5) vs. Hisaki Kato (6-2) – Middleweight (185 lbs.)
AJ Matthews comes into Friday night’s fight on a two-fight losing streak. After losing to Anatoly Tokov and Ben Reiter, this is a must win fight for Matthews. Unfortunately he’s going up against Japanese knockout artist Hisaki Kato. Kato scored an incredible knockout of Joe Schilling at Bellator 139 and will look to do the same to Matthews. I don’t expect this fight to go the distance.
Pick: Kato by TKO
Ryan Couture (10-4) vs. Goiti Yamauchi (19-3) – Lightweight (155 lbs.)
I was disappointed in Yamauchi’s last fight where he lost to Bubba Jenkins at Bellator 151. This is a big fight for him so I expect to see a much better Goiti Yamauchi this time out. Don’t get me wrong, Ryan Couture is no push over. He has excellent grappling skills and works well on the ground. He’ll be looking to get back on the winning track after suffering a loss to Patricky Freire at Bellator 148. Yamauchi is a submission specialist and I don’t see this fight ending well for Ryan Couture.
Pick: Yamauchi by decision
Quick Picks for the Prelims:
Gilbert Smith over Ricky Rainey
Steve Garcia over Ronnie Lawrence
Chase Gormley over Bobby Bents
Julia Bond over Arlene Blencowe
Dan Charles over Virgil Zwicker
Tyler Hill over Wade Johnson
Eryk Anders over Brian White
Jaleel Willis over Omar Johnson
Grady Hurley over Chad Cook
Frank Tate over Mike Wessel
Enjoy the fights!
The Fighting Champion
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